Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson made a comment this week that’s simultaneously encouraging and concerning.
Johnson appeared on the NFL Network on Wednesday to discuss Bears training camp. During the interview, Johnson spoke about linebacker Roquan Smith’s leadership and how important he is to the Bears’ defense.
The former Utah standout told NFL Network that Chicago’s defense is more comfortable when Smith is on the field.
Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson said on NFL Network that the defense is more comfortable when linebacker Roquan Smith is on the field.— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) August 3, 2022
Johnson on Smith: "He's just a different animal when he's out there with us."
That echoes a similar statement that Johnson made in late July about Smith.
Bears CB Jaylon Johnson asked by @CEmma670 what they'll miss if Roquan Smith isn't practicing: "Shit, our leader. We all know who Roquan is and what he means to the team."— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) July 26, 2022
It’s great that Chicago has found an elite defensive leader in Smith. That’s especially important as new head coach Matt Eberflus works to change the Bears’ culture. That’s a much easier job when you have leaders like Smith in the building.
The problem with Johnson’s comments is that it sounds like the defense could completely fall apart without Smith on the field. It’s never ideal for a defense’s success to hinge on one player. What if Smith gets hurt? What if he’s forced to miss a significant amount of time this season? Will the defense implode? It certainly feels like that could be the case according to Johnson’s comments.
Johnson’s comments also stress the importance of Chicago working out an extension with Smith.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Bears are going to keep Smith long-term — Johnson’s comments indicate that everyone in Chicago knows how important he is to the defense. But the deal still has to actually get worked out. And until it does, there will be a nervous feeling hanging over the fan base.
For now, the Bears and Smith are still far apart on a potential deal, but it’s likely just a matter of time before an extension between the two parties is completed.
Featured image via Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports